By Liz Stevens. writer, PostPress

The US Department of Energy (US DOE), through its Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs), offers no-cost expert assessments to small- and medium-sized manufacturers. The assessments are conducted by teams at 31 universities around the US and result in reports with detailed recommendations. Here are the top five things to know about this valuable US DOE program.

The Offer

Since 1976, the DOE has offered no-cost, site-specific expert assessments and analyses to manufacturers. The program is aimed at improving energy efficiency, reducing waste and increasing productivity by making recommended changes to processes and equipment. More than 18,000 assessments have been completed. 

Manufacturers may contact an Industrial Assessment Center (formerly called Energy Analysis and Diagnostic Centers) at a participating university in their region to explore the assessments, analyses and resulting reports. IACs at these universities train the next-generation of energy-savvy engineers, more than 60% of whom pursue energy-related careers upon graduation. IAC assessments are conducted by engineering faculty along with upper class and graduate students.

For qualified manufacturers, a remote survey of the plant will take place, after which an IAC team will arrive for a one- to two-day on-site visit. The team will later perform detailed analyses of the site’s specifics and make recommendations in a confidential report with estimates of costs, performance and payback times. The IAC team will follow up to learn which recommendations have been implemented.

The Criteria

Manufacturers can contact the closest IAC location to explore or initiate an assessment if they meet these criteria:

  • Within Standard Industrial Codes (SIC) 20-39
  • A US manufacturer located less than 150 miles from a participating university 
  • Gross annual sales below $100 million
  • Fewer than 500 employees at the plant site
  • Annual energy bills more than $100,000 and less than $2.5 million
  • No professional in-house staff to perform the assessment

IAC locations are spread across the continental US. IAC locations in the West are located in Colorado, Oregon, California, Arizona, Idaho and Utah. In the South, IACs are found in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. IACs in the Midwest are in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska. In the Southeast, IACs are in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina. For the Northeast region, IACs are located in Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia.

The Nitty Gritty: An assessment in the printing industry

An assessment conducted by the IAC Center at the University of Utah in 2020 for a Utah-based commercial printer with a plant size of 525,000 sq. ft. resulted in recommendations which would result in an estimated $44,400 in yearly energy and other savings. The recommendations included modifying the facility to avoid excess maintenance costs, utilizing higher-efficiency lamps and/or ballasts, using a cooling tower or economizer to replace chiller cooling, rescheduling plant operations or reducing load to avoid peaks, eliminating leaks in inert gas and compress air lines/valves, eliminating or reducing compressed air usage, and rescheduling and rearranging multiple-source heating systems. 

The Top Five Recommendations

In 2020, for SIC code 2752 (commercial printing, lithographic), these recommendations were made most frequently:

  • Eliminate leaks in inert gas and compressed air lines/valves (This is a biggie: It appears in the top five recommendations for 2020 for all SIC codes.)
  • Utilize higher-efficiency lamps and/or ballasts
  • Use most efficient type of electric motors
  • Analyze flue gas for proper air/fuel ratio
  • Reschedule plant operations or reduce load to avoid peaks
  • Insulate bare equipment 

The Database

The IAC Database is available for exploration by anyone interested in seeing the contours of assessments and recommendations. As of June 2021, the database contained 19,427 assessments and 146,971 recommendations. 

The Database can be searched by assessment particulars (industry type, size, year, energy costs, products), by recommendations (type, savings, cost, implementation status) and by industry type (SIC or NAICS code).  

For more information about the DOE Industrial Assessment Centers and their no-cost assessments, visit

In North America, we grow many more trees than we harvest


It has been a misconception for sometime by consumers and others on the use of forests for paper manufacturing. Here are a few facts, compiled by Two Sides North America ( on sustainable forest management. 

  • Paper manufacturers encourage forest sustainability through their purchase and use of certified wood fiber and by promoting sustainable forest management policies and practices at home and around the globe. By providing a dependable market for responsibly grown fiber, the paper industry encourages landowners to manage their forestland instead of selling it for development or other non-forest uses.1
  • Net forest area in the U.S. has been stable since the early 1900s and increased by about 2% from 752 million to 765 million acres between 2007 and 2017.2 Net volume of growing stock increased by more than 5% over the same period.2 Canada’s forest area of 857 million acres has been quite stable over the past 25 years.3
  • Each year, forests in North America grow significantly more wood than is harvested. In the U.S., average net annual increase in growing-stock trees on timberland is about 25 billion cubic feet.2 In 2017, Canada harvested just over 5.5 billion ft3 of timber, well below the estimated sustainable wood supply level of 7.8 billion ft3.3
  • Tree cutting and removal in the U.S. occurs on less than 2% of forest land per year in contrast to the nearly 3% disturbed annually by natural events like insects, disease, and fire.2 Harvesting occurs on 0.2% of Canada’s forest lands each year while 4.5% is disturbed by insects and 0.7% by fire.3
  • Sustainable forest practices, forest certification and government regulations require mandatory regeneration so that harvested areas continue to produce forests for the long term.3
  • More than half the forest land in the U.S is owned and managed by about 11 million private forest owners. Private forest lands provided 89% of the domestically produced wood and paper products in 2017.2 The income landowners receive for trees grown on their land encourages them to maintain, sustainably manage and renew this valuable resource.


  1. Dovetail Partners, 2016
  2. Oswalt et al., 2019
  3. Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN), 2020